Around the corner from the Folies Bergère, there is a bakery. Nothing special. Nothing profound or meaningful for its historical significance. Just your simple, run-of-the-mill pandering to tourists by mere virtue of serving croissant and baguette bakery. Run by Alexandre Lucien, a 46-year-old man with an expectedly rotund physique, an expectedly black mustache and an unexpectedly black heart, the bakery’s only importance was its strategic location. Or so Saleem told his acolyte, Kamir, a 22-year-old fresh from the trenches of the Syrian jihad, who was sent to him by his brothers in arms to serve the greater good in the cesspool of Paris. He was instructed specifically to choose this bakery as a place to secure a job being that, per Saleem’s intent casing of the joint, Alexandre was known for favoring illegal immigrant employees so that he would not have to pay or treat them as well. It was a system that might have been unfair, but worked best for everyone involved.
So it was that Kamir effortlessly secured his post as a sweeper, dough preparer and all around bitch worker upon speaking just enough French to pass Alexandre’s “test,” but not so much as to seem overqualified or suspiciously out of place in wanting a job such as this if he could understand French well enough to get a higher paying profession. Kamir began in his stint the next day, quipping to Saleem that he would have “more roles than anyone ever had in a bakery” in reference to his plan to effectively and discreetly begin to implement the complex wiring needed to slowly but surely build toward executing a plan that would leave them (and those brothers in arms back in Syria) both very pleased and very inculpable. For Saleem’s true talent lie in working with the sort of material that would not only dissolve upon detonation, but also in creating diversions, this upcoming one being the illusion of a gas leak (well, it wasn’t illusion, so much as a red herring to pinpoint the cause of all those glorious deaths on something “natural”). As if there was anything natural about modern appliances, but certainly, at this point in humanity, they were the most inoffensive and non-insidious entities to blame a tragedy on. For most people, it’s preferable to terms like “cyber warfare” or “hacking.” More concrete, something they can place tangible blame on.
Knowing full well how to manipulate the emotions of the masses despite being completely void of empathy, Saleem and Kamir were very deliberate in their selection of a scapegoat. It would be clean, easy. And even though the presence of Kamir as a worker in the bakery would give rise to suspicion as a result of his “red flag” “ethnic background,” the clear-cut report of a gas leak would leave residents and tourists alike far more placated than bothering with the arduous task of putting on a witch hunt for traces of Islam all over this. Plus, it wouldn’t really matter considering that Kamir would willingly serve as one of the casualties in the explosion. No one could point fingers at a corpse, after all (unless you happened to make you living as a psychic therapist).
For months on end, Kamir suffered the orders of the aging, fat Alexandre, a man who seemed to get off on the misery of others solely because he himself couldn’t get off with anyone. Even when he paid for it with the foul and old prostitutes intermittently spread throughout the Rue Saint-Denis, they each appeared too tortured and pained by his aesthetic and style of fucking to ever arouse him enough, causing him to grow more belligerent than his usual persona and essentially pay for the pleasure of backhanding them. It was a pathetic life indeed that Alexandre led, and the only dream he ever seemed to fulfill for himself was not even his own, but his grandfather’s. That was who he had ultimately inherited the bakery from after his own father, Léo, incidentally died in a fire he had set in their apartment above the bakery. In cliche Edie Sedgwick fashion, he had fallen asleep with a lit cigarette in hand as candles burned around him. Alexandre made it a point the rest of his days never to be in a room with candles in them. He fucking despised candles and their frivolity–would even retch if a child or some other such retard mentioned Lumière from Beauty and the Beast. Which, believe it or not, happened more often than one might think–especially after that Emma Watson shit came out.
So no, Alexandre had few pleasures in his world other than the doughy tan-colored concoctions that orbited his business. Obviously, because it was his only source of joy, he was the prosaically overweight baker. Without even an equally overweight wife to share in his grotesque delight and enthusiasm for the flaky quagmire of his pastry universe. He made his workers his fucked up family based on the average underpinning dynamic that comes with being in a “normal” family: an unwanted sense of obligation. Which is precisely what all of his employees felt toward him. Although they loathed him for his personality and maltreatment, they knew there was no one else in all of Paris who would have taken their sorry selves in from their equally as sorry countries. Even Kamir fell prey to a touch of odd fondness for Alexandre, almost thinking to ask Saleem if they might “reposition” the gas leak to another building. But he bit his tongue in the end, knew better than to question his true superior: Allah. This was happening and it would be god’s will. To see hordes of indulgent Western fucks go boom on a whim–to remind them to never ever allow happiness to creep in. Because it would be of a false bent. A happiness built upon capitalist lies. The lies that told you things–not religion or philosophy–could fill you up. Yes, Kamir knew what had to be done, and he had spent months in a horrendous nightmare as he picked the sticky, stubborn pieces of burnt dough from bad batches off of trays and scrubbed them clean. As he chased out a barrage of rat families that only multiplied each time he beat them to death with his broom. As he endured the physical and verbal abuse of man who was surprisingly even uglier on the inside than he was on the outside. To be sure, he was more than ready for his existence in this state to conclude. And the time had at last come.
Aware of the yellow vests’ well-timed presence in the area, Kamir was strategic in waiting for the weekend to make it all go kabluey–just so that if any conspiracy theorists did try to claim foul play, it would be in the accusatory direction of these “populists” (though pinko commie bastards incapable of making their own money sounded more accurate to Kamir, even if it was no matter to him–in fact, beneficial for such homegrown terrorism to serve as a deflection from the outside interests of other militant groups equally as hateful of Europe in general and Paris specifically).
They were crawling all over the arrondissements that paraded excesses of wealth, which included the ninth where the aforementioned Folies Bergère was a fixture. And a tourist trap. Funnily, none of these tourists knew who Josephine Baker was, if you asked them. Not that Kamir would have–the last thing he would want is to further pollute people’s brains with such filth.
He arrived earlier than usual that almost pre-dawn to ensure all of the meticulous and gradual wiring he had implemented over these past few months throughout the secret cracks and crevices of the building that housed the bakery would go off without a hitch. He felt a sense of calm as opposed to panic or fear over the notion of death. It was a reward for him to die, not a punishment, or even a sacrifice. He was ready.
Having secured the viability of his apparatus, he descended into the basement of the bakery to begin his usual underpaid tasks. Setting about turning on the oven and sticking in the pre-prepared croissants, brioches and scones, Kamir could remember thinking only one thing before going through with the business at hand. I should wait for Alexandre. I want him to burn in flames.
But then, a contrary thought occurred to him: Ah, and yet, no. He will suffer much more gravely if he is allowed to live and see the ruin his bakery–so long rife with the cushions of culinary comfort he provides people–has left behind. That he can no longer be permitted to stuff people not only with his inferior product but with the hollow promises of temporary fulfillment in the form of butter pats. His selling of fast “Frenchness.” Not fast food. Fast Frenchness. That’s what croissants and baguettes were to people, after all.
And so, after having unleashed the gas leak before leaving late the night prior so as to give it time to “stew” in the air, Kamir detonated his arcane mechanism (which he had decided to humorously attach to his penis so he could sort of masturbate in his own special way before leaving this earth) right before Alexandre would arrive–four minutes before, to be exact. It was, at last, a chastening befitting Alexandre’s crime of existence. A continuation of the job his father had unwittingly begun decades prior amid the candelabra.
To all of Paris and the rest of the world, however, it was just a “gas leak.”